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Recently, I was taken to task by a fellow blogger and a number of her followers. These good-hearted people objected to my blogging style, which doesn’t make my spirituality readily apparent to my readers. In other words, I don’t come straight out and say, ‘I’m a Christian’. Nor do I pepper my writing with scripture references or approach my topic, which is relationship abuse, from an identifiable Christian worldview.
My detractors felt I was being cowardly and urged me to boldly declare myself so that my readers, mostly lost and lonely souls, may be led to God. I disagreed … and still do.
Vivid in my memory is my own experience of enlightenment. Did I become a follower of Jesus in a millisecond? No. I did not. Did it happen because I communicated with Christians who shared the Word? Again … no. The truth is, I’d have run a mile in the opposite direction if I’d been approached by bible-wielding evangelists. Clearly, we must exercise extreme wisdom before blithely quoting scripture and pointing out the error of other people’s ways.
‘A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; a time to be silent and a time to speak.’ Ecclesiastes 3:7
So what led me out of the darkness?
It was a simple, beautiful thing. God chose to send me my ‘Jesus in the flesh’ during a time of great grief and uncertainty. Not once did she mention His name, nor declare her faith. Instead, I was inexorably drawn to her warmth and calm, her poise and grace, her strength and her gentleness. Over time, perhaps eighteen months, I found myself wanting whatever it was she ‘had’. And so I laid my soul bare and asked her outright, telling her a little of my spiritual beginnings and my later walk on the wild side. She was as surprised as I was to find me ready, willing and waiting for Christ to enter my life and take the reigns. Yet she had led me to Him with her silent witness.
My blog needs to be a safe place for those damaged by intimate partner violence, whether it be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial. Frequently, it is a combination of those facets, and those who land on my blog-step are invariably deeply traumatized. Long-term abuse, particularly (surprisingly) psychological abuse, leaves victims with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Such people are in a constant state of ‘fight or flight’, and highly likely to run a mile, just like me, if confronted by a more aggressive Christian approach. I’ve ‘been there’ and God has been faithful to allow me to use my circumstances for the greater good. The approach I adopt is one He has made clear to me. I wait until people ask, or otherwise indicate to me their readiness. I support a number of my followers through prayer and discussion of Christian principles, but rather than place these in public view, I keep them in the comments section or within private emails.
‘… but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone WHO ASKS YOU to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence …’ 1 Peter 3:15
Although we are instructed to not hide our lights under a bushel, we are also called to use discernment. Actions, after all, speak louder than our words.
Sometimes, Jesus Himself resorted to silence.
‘But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God."’ Matthew 26:63
Occasionally, He also exhorted others to keep silent. In Mark 41, when Jesus heals a leper, he also sends him away with a strong warning.
‘See that you don’t tell this to anyone.'
When his command was disobeyed, problems ensued, forcing Jesus to leave town and continue his ministry elsewhere. Opening our mouths at the wrong time can have serious consequences and we shouldn’t take this responsibility lightly. We also need to consider James 1:27.
‘Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.’
In other words, what God finds acceptable is compassion in action, meeting needs where and when we perceive them. This is the primary purpose of my blog; to extend love, compassion, understanding, acceptance and support to those in emotional pain. It is not everyone’s calling, but it is mine.
(Footnote: Sadly, scripture is used by a sizeable percentage of Christian men, pastors included, to justify spousal abuse. The ‘submission’ Scriptures are trotted out ad nauseam as a means of control and oppression. Having worked in the mental health field, I have witnessed this first hand on too many occasions.)
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Melinda is a writer concerned with social justice, equality, the environment and most importantly, spirituality. She identifies as a follower of Jesus and prefers the label 'Christi-anarchist'. She has had some modest publishing credits - poetry published in two anthologies and short stories published in national magazines and anthologies. Her passion is writing for middle readers, using fantasy themes to educate young people about environmental and social issues. She has two such novels under construction.